There is a new barmaid; Natasha. Tall and strong with long dark hair. She has an easy laugh that can’t hide the melancholy in her eyes.

I sat with her. We fell into easy and dutiful flirtation, performance art on both our parts. Her company made me feel less alone.

A beer, a burger, and lots of iced tea. Half watch on a football on one of endless TVs. My escape from home, my unbearable thoughts.

And I keep thinking I can put romantic hopes and desire for love or sex behind. But I fall in love with barmaids, any pretty young woman who is kind to me.

I settle the check, and Natasha squeezes my arm, asks me to come back and see her. I walk into the night, those silly, silly fantasies in my head.

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